Tag:Steve Spagnuolo
Posted on: January 26, 2012 1:41 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 1:54 pm
 

Coaching carousel winners and losers

Flynn is one of the big winners from the coaching carousel. (US Presswire)
By Will Brinson

The NFL coaching carousel has come to a close with the Buccaneers and Colts the final two teams across the finish line, hiring coaches on Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Let's take a look at some of the winners and losers from a hectic offseason. Because if we're not firing out knee-jerk reactions, what's the point?

Winners

Matt Flynn: Flynn was already going to get real paid this offseason. But new Fins coach Joe Philbin was his freaking quarterbacks coach. Yeah, the rumor is the Dolphins like Peyton Manning better than Flynn. (Also a rumor: I like steak better than tofu.) But Flynn knows Philbin's system and he certainly has to be more inclined to sign his ridiculously overpriced free-agent contract with a team employing his old coach and his old system right? Even if he's not, he could end up in a bidding war between Stephen Ross and Dan Snyder. That's like a sandwich made of $100 Bills.

Ryan Grigson
: The new Colts general manager still has a long road ahead, and needs to draft well to really get Indy's latest rebuild rolling. But he's got an owner who's setting him up well: his first two decisions (firing Jim Caldwell, hiring Chuck Pagano) mean that the Colts simply need to hire a competent offensive coordinator to groom their No. 1 overall pick and let their defensive-minded coach get to work on installing his scheme. Sound familiar? It should.

Norv Turner: Turner was certainly on the old hot seat when the season ended and somehow he still has a job. It might be loyalty. It might be Philip Rivers' influence. Or it might just be a miracle. Whatever, Turner was a lock to get fired and somehow stuck around San Diego for at least another year.

Steve Spagnuolo: Spags got canned from the Rams job but landed squarely on his feet when he got the Saints defensive coordinator job. They'll contend for Super Bowls over the next few years and as Wilson pointed out, Drew Brees is secretly his best weapon. It's an ideal spot to reload and wait for another head-coaching gig.

Jeff Fisher: Fisher got the quarterback he wants, the personnel power he wants and a big old pile of money when he chose the Rams over the Dolphins.

Jay Cutler: Mike Martz retired and took his seven-step drops behind a shoddy offensive line and no pretense of having a running game with him.

Atlanta Falcons: No offense to Mike Mularkey and Brian VanGorder (as well as his superb mustache) but the ATL just got a major assistant upgrade. Ryan maxed out under Mularkey, and Dirk Koetter loves to go vertical -- having Julio Jones and Roddy White make that an easier task than whoever was catching balls with the Jaguars. And Mike Nolan, quite simply, has a fantastic defensive track record.

Cam Newton/Andy Dalton: The two biggest rookie surprises lucked out big time this offseason as their respective offensive coordinators, Rob Chudzinski and Jay Gruden, didn't move on to theoretically greener pastures. Now Newton and Dalton will each get a full offseason to prepare and should look even better in their second year.

Losers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Even if Greg Schiano is "the guy," and there's a significant number of people who think he is not, they bungled this search. (For the record, I kind of like the Schiano hire, but it's risky.) They fired Raheem Morris quickly but were the last team to get a new coach in place. They whiffed -- publicly -- on Chip Kelly. They interviewed a bunch of old dudes -- Brad Childress, Mike Sherman, Marty Schottenheimer -- who now probably feel used. An unimpressive effort all around and indicative of how attractive this job is.

Rob Ryan: Think of all the people who got interviews this offseason. Everyone got an interview. Except Rex's twin brother. Think running his mouth and losing twice to the Giants because his secondary couldn't defend anyone ended up hurting his chances to get a head coaching job? It absolutely did.

Mike Zimmer: Also a dude who can't catch a break. Or interview well? Whatever, Zimmer finally got some heat for coaching jobs (it's been long enough) and couldn't seal the deal on anything. Hopefully he'll get more looks but this has a "flyover" feel to it in terms of how much interest other teams will have in Zimmer going forward.

Brian Schottenheimer: Schottey Jr. might have landed with the Rams, but he'll likely be under heavy scrutiny from fans and could see a short leash, depending on how Fisher's feeling. The worst part is a year ago, he was a hot name for a head-coaching job and instead the Jets ran him off while managing to air out some of their respective greivances with the rest of the dirty laundry.

Mike Sherman: Sherman was the leader in the clubhouse for the Bucs job ... or so we thought. Now he's reportedly headed to run Miami's offense. That could vault him back up to a head-coaching gig, but considering he found out about his firing from Texas A&M at a recruit's house (!), landing an NFL job just a few months later would've been a major coup.

Peyton Manning: Bill Polian's out, Jim Caldwell's out and the Colts seem hell bent on cleaning house. The logical next move appears to be shipping Manning out of town as well.

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Posted on: January 19, 2012 6:21 pm
Edited on: January 19, 2012 7:21 pm
 

Steve Spagnuolo joins Saints staff

Spags will join Payton in New Orleans for 2012. (US Presswire)

By Ryan Wilson

Earlier this week, Gregg Williams, the Saints' defensive coordinator for the previous three seasons, took the same job in St. Louis to work for his old boss in Tennesse, newly named Rams head coach Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. There had been speculation before New Orleans' season ended in San Francisco last Saturday that Williams might choose to follow Fisher so it wasn't surprising when it eventually happened.

Williams was reportedly torn about leaving the Saints but the defense, which struggled against the run in 2011, could be better in 2012: CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Larry Holder confirms through a league source that New Orleans has hired Steve Spagnuolo who, up until two and a half weeks ago, was the Rams head coach. He landed that gig after serving capably as the Giants' defensive coordinator in 2007-2008, which includes shutting down the 2007 Patriots, one of the most high-powered offenses in NFL history, in Super Bowl XLII.  He was fired from St. Louis after sandwiching a 7-9 season around one- and two-win seasons. 

Now he'll join Sean Payton's staff. And unlike St. Louis, where injuries and lack of talent meant that the Rams had to hold opponents to fewer than 10 points to have a chance to win, Spags will lead a defense whose best weapon isn't named Vilma or Smith or Ellis, but some guy named Drew Brees. And he's good for at least 35 points every time he steps on the field.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: January 18, 2012 11:36 am
 

Report: Colts called Jeff Fisher about interest

Fisher's only shot in a Colts jersey. (The Tennessean)
By Will Brinson

On Tuesday, the Colts decided to (finally) fire Jim Caldwell as the team's head coach. It was a smart decision by Jim Irsay and new GM Ryan Grigson, but the delay in removing Caldwell form his post was a bit odd.

Although the news, as reported by Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that the Colts called Jeff Fisher and inquired about his availability before Caldwell was fired and before Fisher took the Rams job makes the timing a bit more interesting.

(The Colts also reportedly interviewed Steve Spagnuolo for the position of defensive coordinator on Monday night, before firing Caldwell.)

However, Fisher was "not interested" and turned down the Colts.

This is fascinating because, as we mentioned on the podcast yesterday, it seemed like Fisher could've landed Andrew Luck (or Peyton Manning?) if he'd waited a few days, returned to the weakened AFC South and been handed the keys to a franchise in full rebuild mode.


Perhaps it was too much rebuilding, though, and that could tell us all we need to know about the future of Manning with the Colts: Fisher has to believe he can win now (to a degree) with the Rams.

If he hits a home run with the No. 2 pick, coaches up the defense and gets an offensive coordinator who can bring the best out of Sam Bradford, he probably can.

In Indy, things might not be quite so simple. There's more work to be done and Grigson was already in place, meaning Fisher would have to work with his vision as well.

It's also entirely possible the Colts called, found out he was getting $35 million over five years and considered just hanging up the phone.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 7:42 pm
 

Falcons hire Mike Nolan to head up defense

Mike Nolan has been hired as Atlanta's defensive coordinator (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Now that the Falcons have hired former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan as their defensive coordinator, as written by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, it seems that former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo could be headed to New Orleans to replace Gregg Williams as the Saints defensive coordinator.

That’s the word from Rapid Reporter Larry Holder, who writes that Spagnuolo “has reportedly been high on the Saints wish list for the job with (Williams) leaving for St. Louis.”

Both moves make sense: Spagnuolo because* the 2008 Giants squad, the last time he was a defensive coordinator, was a top-five defense and stopped the Patriots high-powered offense in the Super Bowl, and Nolan because he’s put together strong defenses in Denver and Miami after he was fired in San Francisco.

*But as CBSSports.com’s Ryan Wilson and Will Brinson point out, Spagnuolo also could be a candidate to replace Jim Caldwell as the Colts next head coach. Which he obviously would accept over a New Orleans offer.

Nolan will replace former defensive coordinator Brian Van Gorder, who unexpectedly bolted for the Auburn defensive coordinator job, and he’ll join newly-hired offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter on Atlanta’s staff.

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“Mike Nolan is an established coordinator in this league,” said Falcons head coach Mike Smith in a statement. “He brings more than 25 years of NFL experience to our team and has been a coordinator at this level for 14 years. Mike has a history of developing physically intimidating defensive units, and we are fortunate to have him join our staff.”

Although Nolan has been known as a 3-4 defense schemer and though the Falcons personnel is suited toward a 4-3, the AJC writes that coach Mike Smith has so much respect for Nolan that the team will become something of a hybrid of the two schemes.

“Moving forward, this defense needs to continue its growth and evolution as a passionate and fiery defense, one that is going to fly to the football, disrupt, be opportunistic and capitalized on opportunities to turn the game around; flip the game in critical situations,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said before the Nolan hiring. “We’ll look for a coordinator who will [aid] Coach Smith and his approach to putting that type of aggressive defense on the field.”

The Falcons feel they’ve got the man in Nolan who will help do so.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 6:00 pm
Edited on: January 20, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Latest coaching rumors, news (Week 3)

Black Monday, part III

By Josh Katzowitz

Coaching news and rumors don't slow down just because there's football. If you missed all of last week's action, hit it here to catch up on Black Monday, week one and Black Monday, week two and then scroll down. Make sure to bookmark this page as we'll be updating it throughout the week with the latest news and rumors.

FRIDAY
12:30 p.m. ET
  • Looks like the speculation concering Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was true. He told Mike Tomlin he will retire.
THURSDAY
11:50 p.m. ET
  • Ah, the old switcharoo. Now that Steve Spagnuolo has taken the Saints offensive coordinator job, the circle is complete. He replaces former New Orleans offensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who left to take the Rams offensive coordinator job to work for Jeff Fisher, who replaced Spagnuolo as head coach. What does it all mean? Nothing, except the NFL is a crazy business.
10:55 a.m. ET
  • Although it appears that former Chiefs coach Todd Haley wants to coach in Arizona and that the Cardinals want Haley to coach for them, the Arizona Republic reports the two sides are having a difficult time making that happen. There's an open spot for a quarterback coach, but it sounds like Haley wants more responsibility than that.

WEDNESDAY
9:40 p.m. ET
  • After firing Jim Caldwell, the Colts have begun to prowl for their next head coach. First on the agenda: Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.
  • There is now a question whether Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will return to Pittsburgh next season. His contract is up, and it sounds like he might decide to retire from the game.
7:30 p.m. ET
  • Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, one of about 300 candidates for the Raiders head coaching position, has decided to decline his chance to interview with Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, according to the Denver Post. McKenzie seemingly will still interview Broncos defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
  • As the Tennessean reports, Mike Reinfeldt has been promoted to senior executive vice president/chief operating officer and moved Ruston Webster to general manager.
TUESDAY
10:40 p.m. ET
  • Though it's been thought that Packers assistant head coach Winston Moss has a good shot to land the Raiders job, Oakland will interview at least four more candidates. That includes Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice, Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bears defensive coordinator Dennis Allen.
  • As Rapid Reporter Dan McLellan writes, Chargers offensive line coach Hal Hunter has been named San Diego's new offensive coordinator. “Hal has been an important part of our offense since I’ve been here,” coach Norv Turner said. “He has a complete understanding of what we want to do in the run and the pass.”
7:45 p.m. ET
  • One defensive coordinator domino has been knocked down as the Falcons have hired Mike Nolan to replace the departed Brian Van Gorder. Which could open up Steve Spagnuolo heading to New Orleans to replace Gregg Williams as Saints defensive coordinator.
  • According to the Florida Times-Union, former University of Florida and University of Illinois head coach Ron Zook will interview Wednesday for the Jaguars special teams coach.

5:30 p.m. ET

  • The Dolphins are down to three head coaching candidates -- Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, Miami interim coach Todd Bowles and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. You can now eliminate Mike Zimmer and Dave Toub from consideration.

MONDAY

5:15 p.m. ET

3:50 p.m. ET

  • Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has made the lateral move to become the defensive coordinator for Jeff Fisher in St. Louis. Yep, it'll be a good old fashioned Titans reunion party in St. Louis

11:30 a.m. ET

  • Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did such a good job with a Tim Tebow-led offense that he'll be interviewed by the Dolphins for their head coaching job.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:09 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 5:11 pm
 

The next Colts head coach: the early candidates

Who are the likely coaching candidates now that Jim Caldwell is out in Indy? (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson

It's that time of year: head coaches get fired and we speculate as to who will replace them. On Tuesday, the Colts dismissed Jim Caldwell after a 2-14 effort this season. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it took so long. Owner Jim Irsay got rid of Bill and Chris Polian early this month but Caldwell's future hung in the balance until Indianapolis hired a new general manager. The team announced Ryan Grigson in that role last Wednesday, and six days later, Caldwell was let go.


Which brings us to this: who's on our very early list of potential replacements? Glad you asked.

Brad Childress

Any other head-coaching gig and Childress probably wouldn't get much consideration. But the Colts are different. Whatever their plans are for Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck, the coach, at least in recent history, has served more as facilitator than a fire-and-brimstone motivator. Childress is best (and perhaps unfairly) remembered for selling his soul to convince Brett Favre to be Minnesota's quarterback.

That PR disaster aside, Childress was 39-35 in five years with Minnesota (including 10- and 12-win seasons in 2008 and 2009), and the Vikings were one Favre interception away from the Super Bowl in '09.

Before arriving in Minnesota, Childress served capably as Philadelphia's offensive coordinator (2003-05). Since the Colts already have a franchise QB (possibly two by late April), Childress won't have to worry about shuttling players to Mississippi to convince an over-the-hill quarterback to play one more season.

Marty Mornhinweg

Some might cringe at Mornhinwheg here considering he won five games in two seasons in a previous stint as an NFL head coach. But he's got an easy out: that was with the Lions. Also, he's worked for the Eagles since 2006, meaning he and Grigson have plenty of time as colleagues. Mornhinwheg's passing offenses have been consistently ranked in the top 10 or 15 in the NFL, and that's a huge plus for a team that's likely draft Andrew Luck first overall in three months. Mornhinwheg would go into a situation where the expectations would be low with a rebuilding franchise. Grigson running the show would mean that Mornhinwheg would get significantly more patience from his bosses than he might in a different situation.

Wade Phillips

Much like Childress, Phillips wouldn't be the first name that came to mind for most head-coaching opportunities. But again, Indy's a different situation, and Phillips, while short on charisma, is long on experience. He's also a proven defensive coordinator, something the Colts are going to need if the Luck era begins this summer.

Plus, there's this: Grigson is 39 years old. Would Irsay want an unproven GM paired with an unproven head coach? One or the other, fine. Both, however, could delay a rebuilding process that Irsay has already admitted won't happen overnight.

Phillips withdrew his name for the Buccaneers head-coaching search last week, stating that he preferred to stay in Houston as the defensive coordinator. It was the right decision, but Indy ain't Tampa Bay. This is a team that, prior to 2011, had won at least 10 games in 11 of the last 12 seasons, appeared in the Super Bowl in '09 and won the Super Bowl in '06. There's a recent history of success there that most other organizations can't match.

Rob Chudzinski

If we're Grigson and Irsay, we call up Chud and offer him a pile of money to run the offense and grow with Luck. Or, worst case, Chud comes in and works with Manning, if they keep him. The work that Chudzinski did in Carolina this year with Cam Newton can't be understated, and nothing's more important for the future of the Colts than preparing Luck to succeed going forward. Chud's shown that he can get a rookie quarterback up and running pretty quickly, and without requiring too much in the way of offensive weapons (grab some tight ends, sign a marquee, young wideout, draft an offensive lineman and you're good).  The obvious exception to this, of course: Chud's unproven (see Phillips above). 

Steve Spagnuolo

Shortly after Caldwell was dismissed Tuesday, FOX Sports' Jay Glazer reported that Spagnuolo interviewed for the Colts' defensive coordinator position earlier this week and Caldwell was one of the people Spagnuolo interviewed with. (We're immediately reminded of the Bobs asking "What would you say you do here?")

If the Colts thought enough of Spags for the DC gig, maybe they also think he deserves consideration for Caldwell's old job. Spagnuolo sandwiched one- and two-win seasons in St. Louis around a 7-9 effort, so his resume alone doesn't make him a particularly attractive candidate. But again, this isn't a typical head-coaching position and Spagnuolo appears to have the right demeanor for the situation. Which is to say that he's not a showman (see Ryan, Rex or Rob) or a screamer (Todd Haley, for example). We also shouldn't underestimate his ties to the Eagles -- just like Childress, Mornhinweg and Grigson.

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Posted on: January 17, 2012 5:07 pm
Edited on: January 17, 2012 5:08 pm
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Posted on: January 13, 2012 11:19 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Report: Falcons interested in Spagnuolo, Nolan

Atlanta head coach Mike Smith is looking for more consistency from his team. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Falcons lost their offensive and defensive coordinators are consecutive days last week. Mike Mularkey was announced as the Jaguars' new head coach on Tuesday and the day before, Brian VanGorder bolted Atlanta to take the same job with the Auburn Tigers.

Given how the Falcons' season ended -- managing just two points and watching their third-ranked run defense get treaded by Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw in a punchless wild-card loss to the Giants -- it's probably best that Mularkey and VanGorder got other gigs because there's a chance they may have been relieved of their duties.

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Whatever the speculation, the reality is this: the Falcons are looking to fill two very important positions for a team that owner Arthur Blank admits has some work to do to be considered elite.

“We’re on the door, we’re knocking, but we’re on the other side of the door,” he said Thursday according to CBSSports.com Rapid Reporter Knox Bardeen.

As for potential candidates, we've already mentioned the organization is reportedly looking at Brian Schottenheimer and Brian Billick to replace Mularkey. The former doesn't exactly evoke images of a high-powered aerial assault.  And neither does the latter, frankly, although Billick had great success as a coordinator in the late '90s with the Vikings when he wasn't responsible for drafting and developing the quarterback. That's the case in Atlanta too, so maybe that's a good sign … except, as CBSSports.com's Josh Katzowitz points out, Billick may be too rich for the Falcons' taste.

On the other side of the ball, more encouraging news: the team is reportedly interested in Steve Spagnuolo, the recently fired Rams coach, and Mike Nolan, the former 49ers head coach who also served as a defensive coordinator with the Ravens, Broncos and most recently the Dolphins.

“Moving forward, this defense needs to continue its growth and evolution as a passionate and fiery defense, one that is going to fly to the football, disrupt, be opportunistic and capitalized on opportunities to turn the game around; flip the game in critical situations,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter. “We’ll look for a coordinator who will [aid] Coach Smith and his approach to putting that type of aggressive defense on the field.”

Spagnuolo may have been mostly unimpressive during his three years in St. Louis, but he was the architect behind the Giants' defensive game plan to stop the Patriots' explosive offense in Super Bowl XLII. Ledbetter adds that "Nolan is considered a 3-4 coach. But [Falcons head coach Mike] Smith’s respect him from their days together in Baltimore runs deep. They could likely mold the principles of Nolan’s 3-4 with Smith’s 4-3 if necessary."

Another guy Smith's close to? Jack Del Rio; the two worked together in Baltimore and Jacksonville, but apparently there are no plans for a reunion in Atlanta.

Here's to hoping that whoever the Falcons hire they instill in the players a sense of consistency. Because to hear Smith tell it, that was lacking this season.

“There was inconsistency in our focus, there was inconsistency in our will to play and inconsistency in our enthusiasm," he said.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com